Tag Archives: fruit

Enjoying the “Fruits” of my Labour

For years I’ve been obsessed with growing fabulous, fresh fruit right here in Central Alberta. Not just saskatoons and strawberries – but grapes, plums, cherries, watermelons – yes, even kiwis and apricots. And I want to grow it all in my own backyard. Well, I can’t say I’ve got all those things checked off the list yet, but this year I’ve gotten closer than ever before.

This has been a fantastic season for growing fruit. After starting from scratch 5 years ago, my backyard is now producing all kinds of different delicious fruit. One of my personal favorites has been my Pembina Plums. We had about 5 gallons of these amazing plums this year. So juicy and sweet! I don’t think there is a fruit I enjoy more!

Pembina PlumsThen there are my “Chums” – my Cherry Plums. This is the first year that they have produced, and they are quite a nice little treat.

Manor ChumsThis variety is the “Manor Chum”. They are greenish-purple on the outside, and deep purple on the inside. Very tasty.

Manor Cherry PlumAnother highlight for me this year has been my raspberries. My Wyoming Black Raspberry grew like crazy – so much so that I think I’ll have to cut them right down to the ground this fall! They have almost overgrown the north side of my greenhouse! But they sure produce a lot of raspberries! And they are the perfect compliment to my “Fall Gold” Raspberries. These yellow raspberries are so mild! It’s all the flavor of a raspberry without the ‘raspy-ness’!

Fall Gold and Wyoming Black RaspberriesOf course, my haskaps really started to produce this year. I was amazed at how densely these little berries covered the branches of my little bushes. The kids loved picking these for a little snack. (And I’m excited for when my wife bakes up a batch of haskap berries muffins this winter!

Haskap BerriesMy grapes continue to ripen – I expect to harvest them in a couple of weeks. (My grape syrup from last year has just about run out.)

Valient GrapesMy muskmelons are getting to be a good size too. (Never heard of muskmelons? Think cantaloupe.) They got a late start, but I think they’ll be big enough for a tasty dessert or breakfast in the next days.

MuskmelonAnd finally, another fruit that I’ve highly enjoyed has been my cherries. I believe I had three varieties produce this year – hoping for another two to be mature by next year.

Sour CherriesSo it’s been a pretty great year for fruit. And hopefully next year will be even better! My kiwis have grown like never before (their vines have reached my garage roof), my apricots are coming along nicely, my blueberries are surviving (though not exactly thriving), and my hazelnut tree is slowly making progress. So we shall see what next year brings…

Kiwis, Grapes, Blackberries, and More!

In my last post, I took a photo stroll around the yard. But at that time (May 20th), there were quite a few plants that still hadn’t grown enough to have much to show. But now after a long spring, I can show you all the other odd and unusual plants that have finally made an appearance.

But first, an update on my plums! Here is one of about half a dozen Pembina Plums.

Nice, huh? Am I ever excited for these guys! But back to the update… First of all, this is one of my grapes. Its a Marechael Foch Grape – my other one is a Valient. Both are doing nicely so far!

Then, there is my Issai Kiwi – I have two of them as well. I’ve tried growing them twice before. The first time a heavy frost just after planting took them out. The second time was an accidental death that I’d rather not get into!

I also have two Blackberry Vines in the works. This one was just planted this spring – so we’ll have to wait to see how they do over the winter.

I’ve also dug up some Black Raspberry plants from the farm and brought them to our new place. They will be planted along the fence, once the fence gets built! But for now they live in pots.

My cucumbers are doing nice. Just ate the first cucumber of the season yesterday.

And my tomates are happily growing in the greenhouse.

And that’s about it for now. Perhaps next time I’ll update you on whether or not my pole beans have overtaken the corn in which they have been planted! Until then…

Here’s What’s Growing By the May Long-Weekend

It was way back in in the June of 2008, that I took a Photo Stroll Around the Yard. That’s some time ago, so I figured it was about time to do it again. Of course, now I have a whole new yard to stroll around in! Anyway, here’s some of the things I found growing around the yard…

First of all, my tulips are just starting to open up.

And my raspberries are just starting to show signs of life.

My watermelon is looking just fine. (I haven’t had success with watermelons for about 4 years, so I’m hoping this year will be the one!)

My Borealis Haskap seedlings are doing well. I just got them planted last week.

And I always love seeing the white blossoms cover branches of my plum trees!

And my hostas are just starting to unfurl…

It’s amazing to me how soft the needle/leaves of the larch trees are.

And of course, I wandered over to my neighbors yard and had to take a few pictures there too! They’ve got all kinds of little violas popping up everywhere.

This was one of my favorites so far this spring – sandcherry blossoms in my neighbors yard  just about to open!

And finally, bleeding hearts, also growing at my neighbors. (Mine just got planted last week – so they’re a little behind.)

And that’s what things look like around here. Next time around I’ll have to show you my tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, kiwis, and grapes!

A Few More Haskap/Honeyberry Pictures

This morning I made an unexpected discovery. While checking my an email address that I haven’t used for months, I found that my brother-in-law had emailed me some photos that he had taken last June of the haskap/honeyberry plants  I had planted at his farm about five years ago. The photos were taken last year, so these plants are four years old. Have a look…

 

Do you have any pictures of haskap/honeyberries? Post them in your comments below!

Haskap/Honeyberries 2009 Update

All I can say is WOW! These haskap are amazing! As most of you know, I moved last summer and had to leave behind my haskaps just as they were starting to produce. I got a few small handfulls from my two dozen plants. Well, just yesterday I went back to visit my brother-in-law (who now lives at my old place) and saw the haskap. I was blown away! The plants had more than doubled in size this year and were covered in little berries. Most were green still, but there were some ripe enough for a taste test. It was a slow start, but wow what a jump from 2008 to 2009! I’ll certainly be planting more haskap at my new place!

Haskap Berries

Sorry about the old picture – this is actually a picture of last year’s berries. I didn’t have my camera with me on this trip, but I’ll sure try to get out there again for a few pictures!

Early Haskap Berries

I took a talk around our yard today and was pleased to notice that my haskap plants were covered in little green berries.

Haskap (honeyberries)

It won’t be long before I put up the netting around them to protect them from the birds. Man, am I excited to eat a big bowl of these things in a few weeks!

17 Hardy Fruits That You Can Grow On The Prairies

When I was a kid growing up in central Alberta, I was pretty sure that all good fruit came out of B.C. True, I we had raspberries and strawberries on the farm, but apples, plums, cherries, grapes and the like where all “exotic” fruit that simply didn’t grow in Alberta. How mistaken I was! Or at least, how things have changed! I never would have thought that I could be growing plums, grapes and kiwis just outside of Red Deer, Alberta. But it’s true. There is a whole world of hardy fruit plants that can survive and even thrive on the northern prairies.

Grape Vines

So if you’re looking to grow some “exotic” fruit of your own, here’s my list of 17 hardy fruits that you can grow on the prairies.

1. Cherries

The University of Saskatchewan has really done great work in making cherries a viable prairie fruit. I now know of at least 10 varieties that are available. (I personally have 7 varieties.)

2. Haskap/Honeyberries

This fantastic fruit is amazing! Consider this… Can withstand -47 degree weather, ready for picking by the end of June, can produce 7 kgs of fruit per bush, and tastes great! Take a look at this article I wrote about haskap earlier.

3. Grapes

Yup, that’s right. Grapes in Alberta. Valient is the most common variety, but there are others as well. I’ve had mine for two years now, so I’ll be looking forward to my first harvest soon.

Gardening for Future Generations

This Christmas I was inspired to plant a tree. Maybe two. Maybe even a hundred.

You see, I had the opportunity to spend Christmas in Yuma, Arizona with my wife’s family. Her Grandmother snowbirds down there and has a lovely little lot in the foothills. While I was there, I did two things that I never could have done at home.

#1. I picked oranges.

About 20 years ago, when my wife’s grandparents purchased their lot, her Grandfather planted some orange, lemon, and grapefruit seedlings. Today those seedlings are 20 foot trees loaded with fruit. Each morning I was able to pick an orange right off the tree for breakfast, and for lunch I could squeeze some fresh lemonade. What a treat!

Grandpa's Orange Tree

Introduction to Haskap Berries (aka Honeyberries)

If you’ve never seen haskap before, this whole article is going to seem very strange to you. So before I go and tell you what haskap is, let me show you what haskap looks like.

Haskap Berries (aka Honeyberries)

What is Haskap?

Haskap is an amazingly hardy, fast growing, high yielding, great tasting berry bush that is relatively new to North America. It is an edible honeysuckle that originates from Siberia and can be found in Russia, China, and Japan. It goes by the name ‘Honeyberries’, ‘Blue Honeysuckle’, and ‘Haskap’. Recently, it has been developed at the University of Saskatchewan by Dr. Bob Bors for commercial production.

What makes Haskap so remarkable?

Haskap has several features that make it stand out from among all other fruits.

#1. Hardiness

Coming from Siberia, it is extremely hardy. It can withstand winter temperatures of -47° Celsius. Not only that, but its open flowers can endure -7° Celsius. They are the earliest to fruit in the season, usually in mid to late June – even earlier than strawberries.

#2. Early & High Yield

One of the greatest thing about Haskap is that it doesn’t take seven years to start producing. My seedlings were planted in the spring of 2006 and I ate my first fruit in June 2007. In the studies at the University of Saskatchewan, they were yielding 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) per plant in their 3rd year and 4 kg per plant in their 6th year. The picture below is a three-year old plant in the test patch at the University of Saskatchewan.

Haskap Bush

#3. Unique Flavor

Haskap is unlike any other fruit you’ve tried. Some have compared it’s taste to blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, saskatoons, and black current. The flavor seems to vary with varieties. They are most often compared with blueberries, but without the seeds. The seeds are similar to that of kiwis, so you don’t even notice them. As for it’s uses, basically anything you would do with blueberries, you could also do with haskap – eat them fresh, in baking, as jams & jellies, frozen, or whatever else you may think of.

You can learn more about Haskap by visiting these sites:

Or you can buy Haskap plants from DNA Gardens in Elnora, Alberta.

Edited: June 1, 2008

Read more in my post Haskap Blossoms In May or Early Haskap Berries.